Annual emissions for most people can be separated into three major categories: transportation, heating, and emissions from manufacturing things you buy. This month’s article focuses on how to eliminate heating emissions in your home while lowering your utility bills.
Most homes in the U.S. produce 4-9 tons of emissions every year (apartments and condos produce roughly half that amount1). Depending on the number of people living under the same roof that can be up to 3x more emissions than come from your car!
Where home emissions come from
Emissions in a home come from three major sources:
- your hot water heater which usually burns natural gas2
- your furnace which usually burns natural gas2
- the emissions generated from the electricity provided by your utility which is converted to renewables with a Kotoo subscription
And while these legacy systems have become very convenient and standard, and Kotoo subscriptions are a more cost-effective way to offset these emissions, in order to meet our climate goals, we’re going to need to electrify everything. The good news is that electric systems are 3x as efficient so they’ll be cheaper to operate as the world starts to account for the true cost of emissions and will save you money over the long run. Since we can generate electricity emissions free, electrifying systems becomes an easy solution to mitigating a climate disaster and is something that homeowners have direct control over. And the sooner we do it, the more time we’ll have to deal with emissions sources that we don’t already have solutions for.
How to make these systems emissions free
The primary way to replace burning things to create heat is using systems called heat pumps and they operate on the same principles as your refrigerator or air conditioner but in reverse. The system uses the surrounding ambient air as the primary source of heat energy allowing 3x more heat than just converting electricity to heat like a electric stove. While it’s not as instantaneous as electric heaters or burning fuel, it’s incredibly efficient and can be fast enough when paired with a reservoir to hold the heat (aka the tank part of a hot water heater) or just the air in your home.
How heat pump systems work
The systems work by concentrating and diluting the heat already present in air to create temperatures much higher than occur naturally. In the end, the result is the same as burning fuel but can also be run in reverse so that the same equipment also can work as an air conditioner.
What does it cost?
Electric systems are currently slightly more expensive upfront but they are cheaper to operate so money is saved over the long run, especially if you account for the damage of the emissions. There are also thousands of dollars in rebates available at federal and sometimes also state and local levels that allow for close to cost parity with gas systems.
If you'd like a report customized to your home, Kotoo now offers to analyze your exact utility bills to recommend system upgrades that will save homeowners money. Get started by filling out this form to get a custom report for your house for free.
Footnote 1: Apartments and condos are more efficient because they are generally smaller and are better insulated because they don’t have as many exterior walls. When an apartment leaks heat, most of it leaks through the walls to another unit. Additionally, apartments are more likely to have electric heat due to the difficulty in routing hot air from a central source and because maintaining many different gas furnaces and the corresponding plumbing for them in each unit would be cost prohibitive.
Footnote 2: There are good reasons to use natural gas for heating – it’s very cost effective, especially with the recent development of fracking lowering the cost of natural gas and because disposal of the waste product (carbon emissions) is free